Before he could reach the top shelf of the pantry, Brandon Rice was cooking dinner for his family. Growing up in Roanoke, Virginia, seven-year-old Rice started down a path that would turn into a career. He found preparing meals for loved ones rewarding, even though his entry into the world of professional cooking was more of a punishment.
At thirteen, Rice borrowed a golf cart (without permission) and crashed it. To afford the lawyer fees, his parents forced him to take a job cooking at the nursing home his father owned. The punishment turned into a passion for Rice, which led him to a fine-dining restaurant in Roanoke, before he took off for the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
After an externship at Daniel and another at Toppers on Nantucket, Rice graduated and moved to Boston to work with future mentor Ken Oringer at Clio. After rising to sous chef, Rice took his talents to Europe, staging at Quique Dacosta and Noma. Returning stateside and to Clio, he dug in for two more years, and also took a life-changing trip to Japan. Then, like many Oringer protégés, Rice moved to San Francisco, working for Daniel Patterson at Coi, before finding a home with Rising Stars alums Evan and Sarah Rich at Rich Table. He worked his way to chef de cuisine while further developing his style and voice, and was named a Rising Star in 2016. Now as chef and founder ofErnest (which opened in 2020), Rice presents the Bay Area’s abundant seasonal produce through a global lens, drawing inspiration from his international travels.